Category Archives: 1989

Movies released in 1989.

Review: Dead Poets Society

Director: Peter Weir
Year: 1989
Score: 8/10

Apparently 'Carpe Diem' means 'seize the opportunity for non-consensual sexual contact with a girl passed out on a couch'.

Apparently ‘Carpe Diem’ means ‘seize the opportunity for non-consensual sexual contact with a girl passed out on a couch’.

Probably the best movie I’ve seen in the ‘inspirational teacher’ subgenre, though I haven’t seen Goodbye, Mr. Chips or To Sir, With Love, so take that with a grain of salt. It’s also hard to think of a better dramatic performance from Robin Williams (I guess maybe Good Will Hunting, but it’s a tough call); he’s believable and genuinely inspiring as the unorthodox teacher who urges his boys to seize the day. It’s not a subtle movie by any means but it packs quite an emotional punch. I’ll admit I found some of the boys – including even some central characters – hard to tell apart for a good chunk of the movie; I imagine if I rewatch it, they’ll be more readily distinguishable to me. I wish Neil’s father got more of a comeuppance (or was more obviously shattered by what transpired) in the final act. Interesting piece of trivia for readers of this review who are familiar with Scots College in Sydney: director Peter Weir apparently wove many elements of his own schooling at Scots into the film.

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Review: When Harry Met Sally…

Director: Rob Reiner
Year: 1989
Score: 9/10

An early draft of the script had Estelle Reiner saying "I'll have whichever food causes orgasms too, please" at this point. The revised version ended up being the most memorable food-ordering line in film history - unless you count Jack Nicholson's "I want you to hold it between your knees" from Five Easy Pieces.

An early draft of the script had Estelle Reiner saying “I’ll have whichever food causes orgasms too, please” at this point. The revised version ended up being the most memorable food-ordering line in film history – unless you count Jack Nicholson’s “I want you to hold it between your knees” from Five Easy Pieces.

One of the best, funniest, most genuine romantic comedies I’ve seen. At its heart is a hugely appealing performance by Billy Crystal; I’ve never liked him this much before (except perhaps as Mike Wazowski in the Monsters movies). Meg Ryan, who I normally don’t take to, is in good form too. The final act is a tad uneven – we know where it’s all heading, and toward the end there seem to be too many hoops to be jumped through before we get there – but that’s probably my only gripe. There’s such truth to be found in it, and such enjoyment to be had along the way, that I must thoroughly recommend it.

Review: Glory

Director: Edward Zwick
Year: 1989
Score: 7/10

Faithful and polished retelling of the true story of the first unit of African American soldiers during the Civil War, and the white man who led them. It lacks the passion this story deserves, though the cast do their best (other than Matthew Broderick, who’s middling at best in the lead role) and the battle scenes are quite good. At times James Horner’s score is very similar to what he would use to better effect in Braveheart six years later. It’s still quite a good movie; it just isn’t as epic or moving as it could have been.

Review: Road House

Director: Rowdy Herrington
Year: 1989
Score: 7.5/10

Road House

“A body like that AND he can sew?! Where do I sign up?” is what I’d totally be saying if I was attracted to guys.

This movie is entirely stupid and yet so absurdly entertaining! It’s another of those so-bad-it’s-good movies: if you watch it uncritically and just go along for the ride, it’s a whole lot of fun. Patrick Swayze is perfect in the lead role (which isn’t to say he’s any good), Kelly Lynch is quite terrible as his love interest, and the always-cool Sam Elliott steals every scene he’s in. There’s so much that doesn’t make sense (for example: we’re supposed to believe that Swayze’s character is such a great bouncer that he has a reputation that precedes him across the nation… really?; the characters inexplicably rely on hand-to-hand combat even though they – or at least the bad guys – have knives and guns… really??; and Lynch’s character is an intelligent doctor yet for some reason she has a romantic history with the main antagonist, a guy with no redeeming features whatsoever beyond money and power… really???), but somehow that’s part of the charm. Oh, and there’s a Chekhov’s throat-ripping move. Really.

Review: Meet the Feebles

Director: Peter Jackson
Year: 1989
Score: 7/10

Peter Jackson’s relentlessly silly parody of The Muppets (kind of) is funny but uneven. It’s completely original, quite ambitious, and wholly committed to its unique premise. Some of the songs are also quite fun. The final stretch is glorious, full of great moments and some belly laughs; not quite enough to cover for some less successful stretches earlier on.

Review: Field of Dreams

Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Year: 1989
Score: 7/10

Not at all what I expected. The premise, and at times the execution, risk cheese and schmalz, but somehow by the end I found it quite affecting. I’m usually annoyed by movies that shoehorn fantastic or supernatural elements into otherwise realistic settings (case in point: The Green Mile), but in this case I happily went along for the ride. I was glad we weren’t given any real explanation for what we were seeing; somehow that would have shattered the lovely illusion. Costner is unremarkable but inoffensive. Two things that bugged me: (1) in one scene he sees three things signifying that he’s somehow gone back in time to 1972 – a poster for Nixon’s re-election, a movie theatre showing The Godfather, and a numberplate that says 1972 – which was about two things too many, implying audience and character stupidity; (2) the reaction to a child’s seemingly life-threatening fall doesn’t ring true (if it had been my child, I would have been freaking out!).